California is home to the largest number of senior citizens in the U.S.—4.1 million—according to the Administration on Aging. Assisted living facilities house 165,000 seniors in the state. California refers to assisted living facilities as "residential care facilities for the elderly" and regulates the industry through the state's Department of Social Services.

Resident Assessment

Assessments must be completed before residents can move in. California does not require a standardized form, but the assessment must include a report by a physician. Additionally, the assessment must include an evaluation of a resident's mental status, social functioning and ability to care for himself. Facilities must reassess residents once per year or when a change in the resident's condition warrants an update.

Scope of Care

California assisted living facilities provide room and board and support services such as dressing, bathing, and grooming to residents. Additionally, facilities provide social activities and transportation. Medical services are limited, but residents with certain medical needs such as administration of oxygen and injections may be admitted as long as appropriate medical staff are available to administer the care.

Staffing Requirements

California requires that facilities maintain staff sufficient to provide adequate care for residents. In assisted living facilities with 16 or more residents or in facilities housing residents with dementia, an awake overnight staff must be on-site. All staff must have related experience or on-the-job training for the position they are hired for. Staff assisting residents with activities of daily living must receive at least 10 hours of training during the first four weeks of employment and at least four hours per year after that. Staff providing direct care to residents must also complete first aid training.

Medication Management

Staff must be an appropriately licensed medical professional, such as a physician or registered nurse, to administer medications to residents. Unlicensed staff may assist residents taking their own medication.


Before being eligible for licensure, California assisted living facilities must obtain and maintain fire safety clearance from the fire authority with jurisdiction in their area. Additionally, each facility must maintain a current, written emergency disaster plan. The plan must address resident evacuation, temporary relocation sites, and staff assignments during a disaster.